In another sub-40-degree game for the Detroit Tigers, Corey Kluber made their offense look like a junior varsity team. The Tigers played in their second-straight shutout, but this time were on the losing end of it as the Cleveland Indians beat them 2-0. Francisco Liriano made his second start of the season and was strong again, but had no margin for error going up against the reigning AL Cy Young award winner.
There’s really not much to say about this one. Kluber rolled through the Tigers’ lineup, striking out 13 batters en route to eight dominant innings. Miguel Cabrera, who has owned Kluber throughout his storied career, went 0-for-4 — though he struck out in the first inning on a very generous call from home plate umpire Jeff Nelson. Nelson had quite the strike zone tonight, giving what seemed to be a few inches on both sides of the plate to both starting pitchers.
Liriano started the game with solid command, and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. With one out in the fourth, however, he walked Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez back-to-back, but was able to get Edwin Encarnacion to hit into a first-pitch double play. In the fifth, Yan Gomes tagged Liriano for a single to end the no-hitter, and then Bradley Zimmer ended the shutout by launching a long home run to center field.
Liriano finished six strong innings, battling command issues from the fourth inning on. He threw 97 pitches and ended with a line of two runs, four strikeouts, and three walks. Buck Farmer relieved him to start the seventh, and didn’t have have any command. After giving up a lead-off double to Rajai Davis and getting a groundout from Gomes, Farmer threw a pitch to Zimmer that caused his knee to buckle. After throwing a couple warmup pitches, he stayed in and walked Zimmer, but then was removed by Ron Gardenhire and head athletic trainer Doug Teter. Officially, Farmer left with a left hip spasm and is considered day-to-day.
Drew VerHagen came on in the seventh to face Erik Gonzalez with one out and two on. On a 2-0 pitch, James McCann threw down to Dixon Machado at second base to get the trail runner in a double steal, and after a challenge, Zimmer was called out. VerHagen then recovered to strike out Gonzalez and end the scoring threat for the Indians. VerHagen came back out for the eighth and held the Indians scoreless, finishing with three strikeouts and one walk.
In the top of the ninth, Andrew Miller came on in relief of Kluber and hit JaCoby Jones, who was pinch-hitting for Leonys Martin to lead off the inning. Miller recovered to strikeout Jeimer Candelario, and then got a six-four-three double play off the Cabrera to end the game.
Who was the Tigers’ player of the game?
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Francisco Liriano (6 IP, 2 R, 4 K)
Leonys Martin (0-2, 1 BB)
Victor Martinez (1-3, 1B)
Drew VerHagen (1.1 IP, 3 K 1 BB)